Years ago I suffered a bout of panic attacks.
I was under great stress and several very hard things had happened to me within a few months.
The attacks came on suddenly. One day, I thought I was handling all my stresses with godly strength. The next day, wham!
Of course, being a musician, the first attack had to happen when I was playing in church for about 500 people. I felt like someone had sneaked up behind me as I played and bludgeoned me with a sledgehammer of impending death.
Many Christians try to spiritualize panic and anxiety. And I suppose there is in any illness an aspect of spiritual illness. After all, we humans have all inherited Sin.
But, like the flu, or cancer, or diabetes, etc. our brains are just as susceptible to illness as our bodies.
The treatment for me during those challenging months of panic was threefold:
- Cling to Jesus like I’d never clung before.
- See a counselor
- Over-expose myself to the things that trigger a panic attack.
I started by stepping outside the house. Then walking down the street. Then getting in the car and driving somewhere…anywhere. Finally, stepping inside my church. Seems so simple. But for the sufferer of panic, it’s not.
After many months of talk therapy, prayer, and forcing myself to stand in front of an audience, the fear became manageable.
When I had my first panic attack, I thought, “What the Sam Hill is this?!!
Later, I had conversations with many women (far more women than men suffer with this condition) and discovered how common anxiety and panic attacks are.
After I recovered, the Lord began to put a thought in my head: why not write about your experience, using a fictionalized character and set her in a wilderness adventure?
Show how the character’s faith in the Lord helped her. How she used a particular kind of organized and supervised therapy in the wilderness to help her face her fear. Then, throw in a very frightening situation—being stalked by a dangerous and delusional man—and show how her therapy and her faith helps her conquer even that kind of fear.
I finished writing the novel. It semi-finaled in a national writer’s contest. A wonderful agent picked it up. It’s close to being published.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree, planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought, and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jer. 17:8 NIV Bible)